December 19, 2019 / 1:19 PM / a month ago

Bolivian lawmakers appoint tribunal to set new election date

FILE PHOTO: Bolivia's interim president Jeanine Anez speaks during a ceremony at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/David Mercado

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia should see a date before May set for fresh elections after lawmakers appointed a new six-member electoral tribunal on Thursday.

The vote for a new president, vice president and some national legislators follows an election on Oct. 20 that was annulled after an Organization of American States audit found serious irregularities in the way votes were counted.

The vote-rigging scandal forced President Evo Morales, who had been in power for nearly 14 years, to resign and leave Bolivia in mid-November.

In a session that began Wednesday and went into the early hours of Thursday, lawmakers elected six members to the tribunal from 155 applicants. The group is expected to set a date by Jan. 2 for new elections within 120 days.

Bolivian lawmakers annulled the contested Oct. 20 elections in November and agreed to appoint a new electoral board that would be tasked with setting a date for general elections.

The bill passed also bars candidates from running if they have already served two presidential terms, eliminating Morales from the race.

Morales, who is seeking refugee status in Argentina under new center-left President Alberto Fernandez, has said he plans to remain active in his Movement to Socialism (MAS) party as it considers potential candidates for the new elections.

Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Catherine Evans

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